How To Stop Fighting About Money In Your Marriage, According To LMFT Maria Mirabella - Exclusive

It's no secret that financial issues can cause tension in a relationship, but arguing about money is actually more common than you might think. For many married couples, fighting about money issues is a rather common occurrence, one that tends not to get addressed unless something else forces it into the light. "Often we see that many individuals do not bring up their concerns regarding finances in their marriage until years into the relationship or until another major issue is on the table needing to be resolved," says marriage and family therapist Maria A. Mirabella, LMFT, in an exclusive interview with Health Digest.

This isn't inevitable, however. According to Mirabella, talking about finances earlier on in a relationship can help couples to avoid these types of fights. In addition, couples who manage their finances individually also tend to argue more than couples with joint accounts. "After years in the marriage, partners may begin to question if the responsibility is equally shared, if money is being spent appropriately, and where the 'extra' money is going," Mirabella says. "If the 'money talk' [is] not held early in the relationship or regularly throughout the marriage, you may not know how to initiate these difficult conversations."

How to know if your fights over money are unhealthy

While some disagreement around finances is natural, you may wonder if your tiffs with your spouse have become unhealthy. Mirabella asserts that it is possible to talk about money without getting into an argument, and that determining whether your fights are unhealthy or not depends on your reaction and relationship dynamic. "You will know if these fights are unhealthy if you automatically get triggered when your partner tries to bring up the topic, and/or you become defensive immediately and try to prove a point instead of actively listening to your partner," Mirabella shares.

You'll also know that things are unhealthy if you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner when discussing anything related to finances and money, or feel the need to be overly vague when having these discussions. "Implementing healthy and effective communication skills during these conversations may be extremely difficult, but it will allow each partner to get much more out of the conversation and hopefully reach a resolution," says Mirabella. 

How fighting over money can impact your marriage

Having these unhealthy fights over money on a continual basis can certainly take a toll and have a negative impact on your marriage. That's because these arguments can destroy the "safe place" you've built within your marriage, according to Mirabella. "If you negatively communicate or react while trying to discuss a sensitive topic, your partner will start to no longer feel comfortable approaching you with similar issues," she says. It may also cause your partner to hesitate or shy away from discussing any other wants, needs, or feelings with you later on.

"Short-term, this will begin to create issues in emotional connection and intimacy, and long-term, this dynamic will create a greater distance between spouses — and resentment," Mirabella further shares. "For a healthy marriage, you always want to ensure that you are providing a 'safe place' for you and your partner to communicate openly and validate one another."

Steps you can take to stop fighting over money

Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to stop fighting with your partner over money issues. According to Mirabella, the first step is to schedule a time to actually sit down and calmly discuss your finances together. "The couple needs to ensure that it is a place where they will feel completely comfortable and that both partners go into the conversation open-minded," Mirabella says. "When the couple sits down to discuss money, they must be fully transparent about their debt, money coming in and out, and any goals they have."

During this conversation, it's also important to speak up and address any questions or concerns you might have. If you and your partner continue to have difficulties regarding transparency around finances, however, Mirabella recommends going to couples therapy. Therapy provides a couple with "another space to communicate about money while learning new communication techniques that can be used during any other conflict," she explains. "Regardless if the conversation takes place at home or in the therapy room, it is important to schedule and have regular financial check-ins with your partner."

To find out more about Maria Mirabella, LMFT, you can find her on Psychology Today, or connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.